Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do Soap Nuts Work on Super Dirty Clothes?

Well, I experimented to find out!  When someone asked me if soap nuts would clean really dirty work clothes (from working in the septic business), I have to admit, I wasn't really sure. My own husband works with appliances/recycling and has a particular talent for getting his clothes especially dirty and smelly.  So I figured if I ever wanted to know, I would just have to experiment and see. 


BEFORE Soap Nuts


Picture of super dirty clothes before soap nuts
Super Dirty Work Clothes

So this picture is very typical of how really dirty my husband's work clothes get. And before I started using soap nuts, here is the procedure I would follow to try and get them clean with regular detergent...


Laundry Procedure With Regular Detergent:


Picture of work clothes after using regular laundry detergent
Work Clothes After Regular Detergent
  1. Pour maximum amount of detergent in the wash compartment and in the pre-wash compartment.
  2. Add bleach to the bleach compartment.
  3. Select:  "Hot" wash, "heavy soil" and "pre-wash".

All this resulted in a 3 hour wash, after which the clothes would come out just "okay", but with permanent stains and sometimes bleach marks too.  I never pre-treated stains and never added fabric softener or dryer sheets.  Considering how seriously dirty they started out, I figured this was as good as it would ever get.

Experiment With Soap Nuts

So I wanted to put soapnuts to the test with really dirty clothes, but I also wanted to make sure I kept my procedure as similar as possible to my laundry procedure with commercial detergent.  Here is what I did:

Picuture of washer cycle settings for soap nuts experiment
  1. Doubled the amount of soap nuts from .5oz. to 1oz.
  2. Added bleach to the bleach compartment.
  3. Pre-soaked wash bag of soap nuts in small bowl of hot water for 3 minutes.
  4. Selected: "Hot" wash, "heavy soil", "pre-soak", "deep clean".

I had just gotten this new washer and it has "pre-soak" instead of "pre-wash" like my old machine and all those selections resulted in a 2 hr. 23 min. wash versus the 3 hour wash with my old machine, but they are both front-loading HE washers.  I did not pre-treat stains and did not add any fabric softener or dryer sheets.  So I think I accomplished my goal of keeping my procedures as similar as possible.  (You can read more on soap nuts laundry instructions here).

AFTER Soap Nuts


Picture of work clothes looking clean after soap nuts
Soap Nuts Really Work!

Wow!  I am impressed, aren't you?  Soap nuts far surpassed my expectations.  Even though I was committed to using soapnuts with my regular laundry (after seeing the results with my daughter's school uniform), I thought I was maybe going to have to continue with my "regular detergent procedure" for my husband's really dirty work clothes, but I was wrong!

CONCLUSION: Soap Nuts DO Work on Really Dirty Clothes


The results of the experiment are clear:  Soap nuts definitely worked as well (in fact, I think even better) than the regular laundry detergent did!  And I don't know about you, but I strive to use as natural, healthy, and good-for-the-environment products as possible, but the bottom line is, they also have to work


So now I know there is no reason to have to continue buying regular laundry detergent just to get my super dirty clothes clean, because soap nuts can get the job done.  Plus soap nuts are also more economical than regular laundry detergent and they're 100% eco-friendly... what more can a person ask for?  


So here's what I've decided to do with my really dirty clothes...I'm going to run 2 different wash bags:

  • One 1oz. bag of soap nuts for my husband's really dirty work clothes

  • One 1/2oz. bag of soap nuts for my regular laundry


Tell me what you think of my experiment with super dirty clothes below!  


(Or you can click here to learn more about soap nuts for laundry)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Soapnuts - Before & After Pics

Soapnuts With Laundry Bag
Can you actually wash your clothes with these things?...YES!...with:  


In fact some of you have gotten some sample laundry bags like the one in the picture.

What Are Soapnuts?

The little muslin bag in the picture above contains about a half ounce of those brown acorn-looking things, called soapnuts. The official name is sapindus mukorossi, the latin root, sapo, meaning 'soap'.  In fact, it is the outer shells that contain high levels of naturally occurring saponins (or "soap") that act as a natural detergent.  The trees that produce the soapnuts originate primarily out of India and Nepal where they have been used for centuries to gently and effectively clean their fine fabrics.  They have also been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

These soapnuts are 100% natural, certified organic, completely biodegradable, from a renewable and sustainable source, and require no fossil fuels or chemicals to produce!  They are extremely gentle on skin and are a perfect solution for people with sensitive skin, babies and those with chemical sensitivities to regular detergents.

Do you want to see some before and after pictures of my daughter's school uniform shirts?  Check it out...

Soapnuts Before Picture

 Here you can see the prominent tomato sauce stain on the shirt before I washed it with soapnuts
Soapnuts After Picture

And here you can see how awesomely it came out of the laundry after I washed it with soapnuts! 

And the SMELL...it came out of the dryer with the freshest, hung-outside-on-the-line-all-day smell ever...and all without chemical detergent or fabric softener!  It's hard to believe they can come out smelling like so much fresh, sweet nothingness like they do, considering the smell of wet soapnuts is like a milder version of apple cider vinegar (not all that pleasant), but somehow they do!

How Do Soapnuts Work?

The natural saponins in the shell are released when hot/warm water hits them, turning them into a natural surfactant (surface active agent) or detergent that circulates in the water, which breaks down the surface tension in the water, freeing dirt, grime and oils from the clothing and rinsing away in the rinse cycle.

One bag lasts 4-7 washes, depending on the temperature and hardness of your water, after which you just replace them with new ones.  And since they're 100% natural and biodegradable you don't have to worry about them polluting the ground or water.  I do still pre-treat any stains as needed with a stain remover, but then that's it.  Just toss the bag in with the laundry, remove it to air-dry when the cycle is finished and put the clothes in the dryer.  And soapnuts are perfect for HE (High Efficiency) washers that require low sudsing detergents. 

  • anti-microbial properties
  • anti-fungal properties
  • hypoallergenic
  • gentle on fabrics; effectively clean, naturally soften
  • multitude of other household uses (counters, floors, sinks, windows, dishwasher, carpets, jewelry, pets, handwashables)
  • environmentally safe
Of course for me, the most exciting feature of all has to do with their potential and promise for use in personal care products.  I've been working on a foaming handsoap and a 2-in-1 cleansing hair conditioner...stay tuned!

Please comment below and tell me what you think of soapnuts.  If you have tried them, we'd love to hear how it went.  Or if you haven't tried them and think they sound like something you would like to try, let me know that too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sexy Summer Feet

(Originally Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011)
So our feet have been safely under wraps all winter, but here we are in sandals and barefoot season!  Are your feet summer-ready?  Well if you would like to get some at-home tips to prepare them for this foot-baring season or would just like some inexpensive DIY options to help extend the time between professional pedicures, you are in the right place!

Interestingly enough, the very same things we covered in the January newsletter for dry winter feet are the very same things that will help you achieve sexy summer feet!  Basically, this highly effective treatment is done using plain table sugar!  You can read the whole article, Ugh! I Hate My Dry, Disgusting Winter Feet! or you can follow along below where I will reproduce the pertinent information and provide a link so you can see the results of before-and-after pictures using different versions of a simple, at-home sugar scrub.  Just be sure to click the link called "Back to Summer Feet" on the last picture page to bring you back here.

Click to see pictures

  All the Treatments Worked Very Well, But Differently

  • Pumice Only:  Using a pumice stone (or similar product) on feet softened from a shower or bath does a good job to get rid of the roughest outiside layers.  I had been doing this alone periodically with some improvement, but still wasn't satisfied with these results alone.  However, I see this as an important first step to lay the groundwork for the following treatments. 
  • Sugar/Water Scrub:  The natural alpha hydroxy acids in the sugar made great progress "eating away" the rough, dry skin leaving it feeling very smooth.  The sugar keeps on working even after it's dissolved and rinses clean away.  However, it still showed dryness in the cracks.
  • Sugar/Oil Scrub:  The sugar didn't seem to to "eat away" the rough, dry skin, as much as it manually scrubbed it away, while the olive oil provided lubrication and moisture to help protect my feet while I continued scrubbing, leaving the skin feeling very smooth and nice.
  • Rescue Balm:  The Rescue Balm really seemed to be the cherry on top in this whole process.  It removed all last traces of dryness in the cracks and left it smooth and protected.  It continued to work over the long haul and the best part is that several hours later my foot still looked good!
In summary, any one of these treatments alone, or in combination with 2 or more, made definite improvements in my feet.  However, If you are in need of drastic measures (like me) or you're just looking to give yourself an extra special at-home beauty treatment, doing all 4 is the ticket!

So what would sexy summer feet be, especially after the wonderful DIY treatments above, without topping them off with a great coat of nail polish?  Obviously, you may all have your own favorites, and I am absolutely no expert in this arena, but my personal favorite to date is one I picked up from River Market Coop called No-Miss.  The color was rich, beautiful, glossy, long-lasting, dried pretty quickly, came off easily when I wanted to take it off, and most importantly, it didn't leave my nail yellow, brittle and dry like every other commercial product I've used in the past.

Tell me what you think of this article and let us know how the treatments worked for you.  And please share your own tips for great summer feet!

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)

Sunscreen Anyone?

(Originally Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2011)
I am so torn on the whole sunscreen issue.  On the one hand I have incredibly sensitive skin that is extremely fair, burns easily, I have a family history of skin/other cancers and I already have sun damage.  On the other hand, I have sensitive skin that has already been damaged by what I believe is a lifelong exposure to parabens (preservatives found in most commercial personal care products), plus recent research suggests vitamin D, aka "the sunshine vitamin" is essential in helping ward off some serious cancers and a host of other dastardly diseases, commercial sunscreens leave my face red/hot/irritated, and finally, I am committed to trying to reduce the amount of chemicals that go in and on my body.  Furthermore, I get asked quite often whether SkinKissed Naturals' Go Green Tea facial moisturizers have sunscreen in them.  So what is a person to do?  I decided to look into this issue further and share some surprising information with you.

First of all, Go Green Tea facial moisturizers do not have sunscreen in them, because adding an SPF to a moisturizer automatically makes it an over-the-counter drug according to the FDA, and my insurance will not cover OTC drugs.  However, if you have sensitive skin like me that does not respond well to traditional sunscreens, but would still like to put on some sunscreen in order to be out in the sun, I have a suggestion for you:  Apply your Go Green Tea moisturizer as you would any other day and then layer your sunscreen over the top of that.  This way, you will have the more natural, gentle, good-for-your-skin ingredients directly on your skin and can still get the sunscreen protection you want as well (and perhaps get a bit of a buffer from the harsher chemicals and ingredients in the sunscreen).


As far as the other information I found out about sunscreens, I have some bad news and some good news.  I'll start with the bad news, but to understand it fully, I need to give a little background information first.  To start with, UV radiation comes in two forms:  UVA (Ultra Violet-A rays) and UVB (Ultra Violet-B rays).  UVA rays are a longer wave radiation that penetrate deep into the skin and is generally referred to as causing premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.  UVB rays are a shorter wave radiation that only penetrates the top layer of skin and is generally referred to as causing sunburn and some cancers with repeated exposures.  SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of how long you can stay in the sun before getting sunburned, comparing bare skin to skin with sunscreen.  So as an example, an SPF 4 should allow me to stay in the sun 4 times longer without getting burned than if I didn't have any sunscreen on at all. 

The bad news is that for years sunscreens only protected against the UVB rays.  It isn't until just recently that we have even heard of or seen any sunscreens with UVA protection.  So here is where the bad news gets even worse.  All this time we consumers have been putting on our SPF 30 (or whatever), thinking we are protecting ourselves from sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging, and we went and spent the whole glorious day playing or relaxing in the sun.  We were thrilled if we didn't get sunburned, but meanwhile, the UVA rays that we couldn't feel quite possibly had all that time to deeply penetrate and damage our skin!


So here is where the good news comes in.  After a 30 year wait the FDA has finally just come out with new rules pertaining to sunscreen.  And although you may start to see some manufacturers labels reflecting this change now, the industry has been given a year to comply with the new testing and labeling requirements.  Following is a summary of the changes. 
  • Broad Spectrum - The FDA strongly recommends using only sunscreens listed as "Broad Spectrum".  This means the sunscreen provides both the traditional UVB protection, as well as, UVA protection.  Only those sunscreens that provide both UVA and UVB protection with at least an SPF 15+ can carry the "Broad Spectrum" label.  All other sunscreens with lower SPF numbers or UVB-only protection must include only the SPF number on the label.
  • Product Claims - Only "Broad Spectrum" sunscreens with an SPF 15 or more can claim to "decrease your risk of skin cancer, premature aging of the skin and sunburn".  Products with a lower SPF or UVB-only protection can only claim they "help prevent sunburn".
  • No More "Sunblock", "Sweatproof", "Waterproof" - The FDA says no sunscreen completely blocks UV rays, and all sunscreen loses significant effectiveness with sweating or in water.  They determined these terms are misleading and overstate their effectiveness.  Therefore, under the new rules, labels may carry the term "water resistant" and then they must also state whether they remain effective for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating, based on testing.  Furthermore, they must not state they are effective more than 2 hours without re-application.

A couple other things the FDA is looking into and thinking about proposing for future rules has to do with products claiming SPF's over 50 and dosage.  Apparently, the FDA has determined there is no evidence that an SPF greater than 50 provides any additional benefit, and again, is misleading. 

The EWG (Environmental Working Group - a team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers who pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and conducts their own laboratory tests to expose health and environmental threats and provides solutions), agrees with the FDA's assessment of SPF 50+ products and goes on to say studies show people wearing these products tend to stay in the sun much longer with just one application, thereby increasing their exposure to damaging UVA rays.  Additionally, they believe there may even be evidence that certain sunscreen chemicals actually break down when exposed to sunlight, forming free radicals and possibly penetrating the skin, leading to potential DNA damage.  Therefore, the higher SPF products just provide an increased exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals that do not provide any greater sun protection anyway!  The FDA responds to this saying sunscreen chemicals have been used for years and they have no reason to believe they are not safe, but report they will look into this further in the future.

Another surprising (even shocking) thing I learned about sunscreen has to do with proper dosage.  The FDA plans to look into this area in the future and come up with new rules.  The EWG cites studies showing consumers consistently apply only 1/5 - 2/3 the amount necessary to achieve the SPF rating manufacturers use in their testing.  They say this inadequate dosing results in exponential cuts in protection due to the physics of sunlight (which I don't understand, but just take their word for it).  They give an example of applying 1/4 of the amount of an SPF 30 product provides you with just SPF 2.3 protection, and an SPF 100 product becomes just SPF 3.2 protection!  Say what?! 

So just how much are we talking about?  EWG says we should be applying a full ounce (about a palmful) evenly to all exposed skin, leaving about a full teaspoon for our faces.  So think of it this way...a typical 8 oz. bottle of sunscreen will give you just 8 applications!  That is a lot of slathering!  They also say not to rub it in too much (no more than 6 passes).


The EWG believes mineral sunscreens have the best safety profiles in general, saying they are stable in sunlight, they do not appear to penetrate the skin and they offer good UVA protection.  However, if you just cannot live with the whitish tinge and want something that disappears more easily on your skin, they suggest opting for products with avobenzone at 3% for the best UVA protection.  They believe we should avoid oxybenzone and 4-MBC due to possible hormone disruption, especially in kids' products.  Personally, my sensitive skin does best with mineral sunscreens without any parabens for preservatives, which I can easily find in natural food markets.

In summary, the FDA gives the following recommendations to help avoid sunburn, decrease your risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging when we are in the sun:
  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeve shirts, long pants, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses
  • Limit your time in the sun, seek shade as much as possible and avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10am-2pm when the sun's rays are at their peak
  • Use sunscreen with "Broad Spectrum" SPF 15+, following all label directions
  • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours, more often if sweating or jumping in and out of the water
(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)

Do You Know What's In Your Perfume?

(Originally Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2011)
ABC News reported on a study done of a random selection of 17 of the most popular perfumes.  The study found all 17 perfumes contained sensitizing chemicals that can lead to allergic reactions (such as wheezing and headaches).  All 17 perfumes also contained at least one of the chemicals some studies suggest are linked to endocrine (hormone) disruption in animals.  These chemicals belong to a group commonly referred to as "pthalates".

Pthalates are a group of chemicals used extensively in just about every area of our lives, from vinyl flooring to plastic toys to our personal care products.  Pthalates are plasticizers made from petroleum.  They are used in the perfume industry to make the scent linger longer, but they are also added to nail polish to make it chip resistant and in hair spray to keep it soft and flexible.  But now think about everywhere you have perfume, aka "fragrance", in the products you use…lotions, soaps, sunscreens, deodorants, hair products, laundry soaps, air fresheners, candles, cleaning products, etc.  It is dizzying to think about all the different products we use on a daily basis that contain scent or fragrance, and it is easy to see how a little bit here and there can really add up.

More specifically, the effects of pthalates on lab animals has shown an increase in reproductive and genital defects including undescended testicles, deformed penises (hyposadia), not to mention low testosterone levels, low sperm counts and early onset of puberty.  Pthalates do cross the placenta and the Center for Disease Control found metabolized forms of pthalates in every single person tested  in their "body burden" study.  Okay, so just to be fair, there are groups out there saying pthalates are harmless.  So I would suggest you do your own research and make up your own mind.

For the record, SkinKissed Naturals (SKN) is committed to using only natural, healthy ingredients without any pthalates.  The only fragrance used in any of our products are from pure plant/flower essential oils.  The scent from essential oils does not last as long as artificial fragrance oils extended with pthalates, but the scent is cleaner, fresher, and positively beautiful. 

I have been unable to wear commercially made perfumes for years no matter how much I like the fragrance, as they give me headaches, make me feel weak, dizzy and sometimes upset my stomach.  I have longed to be able to wear a scent again and was motivated to develop some natural perfumes, consistent with the SKN motto of "Pure. Simple. Natural. Beautiful".  So for the first time ever, I am able to wear perfumes made from pure plant and flower essential oils.

SkinKissed Naturals LLC is pleased and excited to announce the development of its all-natural perfumes made from only quality, natural plant and flower essential oils in a base of sweet almond oil.  The scents will be perfume strength and are not quite ready yet, but should be coming out within the next month.  Four scents will be introduced.  How does "Hippie Chic", "Flirt" and "Sultry" sound?  I can't decide on the 4th scent's name; I'm torn between "Earthy", "Earth Angel" and "Natural".

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website) 

Alligator Skin VS Candy Cream & Second Skin

(Originally posted Wednesday, February 9, 2011)

Four women agreed to put either Candy Cream or Second Skin to the test against their dry, "alligator" skin and their current body lotions.  Over the space of approximately a week, they were asked to test and compare their current lotion on one leg and either the Candy Cream or Second Skin on the other and then answer some questions for me at the end.  Following is what they had to say.

All four describe their skin as dry to very dry, one with very dry hands and cracks on her thumbs.  They all apply lotions on their legs and bodies, one applies on her hands throughout the day.

With regard to scent, two of the women prefer lotions that are either lightly scented or unscented, one due to being sensitive to scents and the other not wanting the scent to interfere with her perfume.  The other two women like nicely scented lotions.

All four women look for a lotion that addresses their dry skin, that lasts a long time and doesn't leave them dry by the end of the day, one wanting her skin to feel soft after it's on.

Bath and Bodyworks scented body lotions (two women use)
Victoria's Secret body lotion
Lubriderm Advanced Therapy lotion
Johnson's Melt Away Stress-lavender & chamomile lotion
Thymes Azur body lotion
Neutrogena Hand Cream

Two of the women used Candy Cream, two used Second Skin, one was able to try both.


  • Scent:  The woman who was able to try both lotions, did not like the scent of Candy Cream at all and discontinued use.  One said she was not crazy about the scent, but said the smell did dissipate quickly.  One thought the scent was okay.
  • Performance:  One woman said it performed well, had good texture and lasted well.  She prefers the scent of her Lubriderm, but thought it performed as well.  The other woman said she loved the thick consistency, it was not "watery" like her current brand and past brands, it felt really nice on her skin and she did not have the white, flaky skin at the end of the day like she does with everything else she has tried.  She went on to say she keeps buying different brands looking for something that lasts and works, but hasn't been able to find anything.
  • Scent:  Both women liked the scent.  The one who didn't like the scent of Candy Cream at all, even thought this was unscented.
  • Performance:  One woman thought it stays on better and she didn't have the dry, flaky skin at the end of the day like she does with her current brand or past brands.  The other woman absolutely "loved it".  She used it on her body too, but is mainly concerned with her very dry hands.  She said Second Skin goes on a little greasy at first, but then turned her skin soft in just a few seconds.  She went on to explain she has to reapply other lotions several times per day, but not with Second Skin.  She said Neutrogena Hand Cream touts "just a dab heals dry skin" but she found even though it went on thick like petroleum jelly, it only lasted one hour.  She also says she gave Second Skin to a coworker to try who has extremely dry hands and currently uses an ointment stick/balm, and the coworker loved it too.


What scents people like is most certainly a very personal, subjective matter.  Candy Cream does have a very unique scent; I tell people it smells like a chocolate-coconut-almond candybar due to the naturally-occurring scent inherent in the ingredients that are used.  However, because there is not any kind of actual added fragrance (natural or not), it is light and the smell dissipates quickly.  So I've found some people love it, others not as much.  Second Skin does have a small amount of organic lavender essential oil added to it, as the naturally-occurring scent of the red rooibos tea that's in it was not a favorite of many people (then again, some people are not fans of lavender).

With the scent issue aside, one participant thought the product performed as well as her current brand and the others thought both products worked very well, had a great consistency, lasting much longer than what they are currently using, not leaving them with the aggravating white, flaky dry skin at the end of the day like everything else they have tried on the market. 

I have taken great care to choose very high quality (many certified organic) ingredients to include in these lotions; I haven't settled for inferior ingredients just to maximize profits.  It is also the reason for their higher cost.  So you will have to be the judge and decide if they are worth the longer lasting, better quality and performance.

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)

Dry Winter Skin-Part 2

(Originally posted Monday, February 7, 2011)

Between the cold, dry air outside and the furnace-heated air inside, practically everyone is affected in some way by the extremely low humidity and harsh, cold winds characteristic of winter.  Nosebleeds, scratchy throats, static electricity and itchy, dry skin are common concerns.  Caring for our "winter skin" can really be a challenge this time of year.

People in general prefer the feeling of a relative humidity level of
40-60%However, did you know if we kept that level of humidity inside our homes in winter, we would be way over-humidifying our home and seeing the buildup of condensation or frost on our windows, not to mention hidden dangers of mold, mildew, rot, etc.  This is because cold air can't hold as much moisture as warm air. (For more information on appropriate levels of indoor humidity relative to the outside temperature, see this link at Home Energy Resource MN)

Given this fact that cold winter air is just plain dryer no matter what, caring for our "winter skin" can really be a challenge this time of year.  So let's take a look at some cold weather skin tips and see just what we can do to deal with this challenge.


  • Switch formulas.  If you typically use a normal or oily formula, consider switching to the normal or dry formula for winter.
  • Choose a gentle, mild cleanser.  Strong, preservatives and harsh, artificial surfactants (to create an abundance of lather) can irritate and over-strip your face (check out My Daily Grains which is a gentle, 100% natural cleanser).
  • Try cleansing once daily at night only.  I know this can be a challenge to those of you who are in the habit of washing in the morning or twice daily, but his way you will still be removing the day's makeup, dirt, and excess oil.  Then just splash warm water on your face in the morning, followed by a final cool splash to calm your skin and shrink your pores.  If you feel you still must cleanse with something, try swirling a small amount of your moisturizer between your fingertips an using it as a "cleanser" on your dampened face and rinsing as above.
  • (Again), switch formulas.  While it is still important to tone your face to ensure the return of your skin's pH level to its preferred acid mantle state, switching to the next heaviest formula may help for winter.
  • Choose a natural, gentle, alcohol-free toner.  Alcohol can be very drying to the skin and even if you have oily skin do not use alcohol-based toners.  You may think you're fighting the excess oil this way, but in essence, you are over-stripping your skin, causing your brain to send a signal to just make more oil!  A toner like Tone Up Time is gentle, pH balanced and alcohol-free.
  • Spray on with a mister or splash on with your hands.  You can opt out of the cotton ball/pad method of application for winter if blemishes aren't too much of a concern for you this time of year.
  • Switch formulas.  As above, you may be able to get the help you need by just switching to a heavier formula.  Make sure you use a quality moisturizer (like Go Green Tea), that doesn't contain silicone oils that although go on nice and slick initially, are unable to penetrate your skin.  And remember, even if you have oily skin, you still need to moisturize, especially in winter.  You won't win the battle against your body's natural mechanism to keep a healthy, protective amount of oil.
  • Use more/often.  This one maybe goes without saying, but people are creatures of habit and sometimes we get stuck doing things the same way day after day (season after season).  Remember the amount that works for our skin at temps above 80 degrees is different than the amount that works at 50, 20, 0 or -10 degrees due to the differences in relative humidity.  I'm using about 3-4 times the amount now than I do on a hot, humid summer day (when I use a fraction of the amount plus dilute it down with water in my hand)!  If you're bummed about the increased cost, just tell yourself it all evens out when summertime comes back around and you can use so much less!
  • Boost with facial serum.  A high quality facial serum like Damage Control can give just the boost of protection and relief your skin needs by patting on a light layer over face/dry areas before applying your moisturizer.
  • Avoid hot water.  Resist the urge in these frigid temperatures to crank the hot water nozzle up a notch and linger too long in the balmy paradise you've created in your bath or shower.  Hot water removes more of your skin's natural oils and the longer we're exposed, the greater the drying effect.
  • Choose a gentle, mild cleanser.  While we like the idea of killing off any kind of bug that might potentially threaten to take us down in this cold/flu season the experts say antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap and water and very likely hazardous in the long run (see this Mayo Clinic article for more info).  I can just about 100% guarantee I will break out with an angry, itchy patch of eczema on my hands just by using antibacterial or some other harsh soap.  So personally, I only use a high quality, handcrafted soap which is usually made without the harsh surfactants included in commercial brands.  Plus they are typically made with higher levels of quality oils, helping to keep my skin better lubricated.
  • "Squeaky-clean" = Over-stripped.  I know what you're thinking...I too was taught to lather, rinse and repeat until I squeaked.  Well that "squeak" is the sound of every bit of natural oil being stripped right out of your skin.  Practice trying to find that balance between just getting the lather off and "squeaking".  Then the oils in that quality handcrafted soap won't be wasted by being completely rinsed away and can provide some benefit to your skin.  This goes for your hair too.  Don't completely rinse away all the nice oils your conditioner just put in, leaving your hair dry and your scalp itchy and even flaky.
  • Only use soap on the "necessary" parts.  Your whole body doesn't probably need to be soaped up, especially in winter.  Even the good soap can be drying, so save it for those really dirty parts (you know, like hands, armpits, genital area, visible dirt).
  • Moisturize immediately after washing.  Lightly pat dry and slather a good quality moisturizer on as soon as possible to lock in that precious moisture before the dry winter air evaporates it.  Again, opt for a moisturizer with high quality natural oils to keep your skin smooth and protected for hours.  In summer I can get away with applying moisturizer every few days, but in winter I apply Candy Cream or Second Skin daily to my whole body to effectively ward off itchy eczema flare ups.
  • Use a skin balm on exposed, chapped skin.  If you can't avoid exposure to cold, dry, windy outside air for prolonged periods, you can give your skin an ultra boost of protection with an all-natural skin balm like Rescue Balm.  Apply a thin layer before or after exposure by swirling a small amount between your fingertips and lightly patting onto exposed, chapped areas as needed.
Don't forget to keep yourself hydrated on the inside (which will help you on the outside too) by drinking plenty of water and don't neglect your lips (Love-a-Luscious Lip Balm is incredibly soothing and long-lasting; see what others are saying about it).  And finally, don't overlook the fact that babies and children can suffer from dry skin too.

I remember one February when my daughter was 3 months old and I took her to the pediatrician for a rash that had developed all over her body.  Although I used soap sparingly on her, the doctor told me she was dry and needed moisturizer!  I wanted to use something natural, organic and gentle, so I bought Burt's Bees buttermilk lotion for babies, but the scent was so strong and stinky it made me sick and then she broke out from that too!
I sure wish I had Candy Cream for her back then; I use it now on her after every bath from head to toe and she loves it.

Well I hope you found some helpful nuggets of information here.  Now don't be shy, tell me what you think of this article or share some of your own tips.

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)

Help the Children of Lougou, Haiti

(Originally posted Tuesday, February 8, 2011)

I just love it when I can give to a charity or mission that is relatively small, addresses specific needs, and has individual people you can actually contact who are directly involved in the organization, don't you?  I personally just don't feel very good about giving my money to some giant charity with gobs of overhead and high administrative costs.  The children at my daughter's Sunday School have done just that by partnering with their peers in the village of Lougou, Haiti for three years now.

Their current goal is to raise between $1000-$6000 to cover the cost of building supplies for a simple footbridge. The villagers are eager to do the labor to build it, they just need help to cover the costs of building materials.  The deadline for the children's fundraiser is February 20th, so SkinKissed Naturals has decided to donate a portion of all sales until the deadline to join in the effort.

Lougou Haiti has a population of 1500 packed into a 1.2 square mile radius.  Most of the children walk to school and must cross a river on the way. Ordinarily, they can wade across at the shallow spot, but during the rainy season the river quickly rises, making it impassable and dangerous. The kids can get stuck on the wrong side of the river and/or be unable to get to school for up to several months.

COFHED is the mission organization involved that is all about working with the people of Lougou to identify goals/needs and empower them to reach community-led, sustainable solutions.  Read more about Lougou and COFHED's approach and involvement here. 

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)

UGH! I Hate My Disgusting Winter Feet!

(Originally posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011)

I know many of you take the time to really take care of your feet; maybe you treat yourselves to pedicures or keep up on a good at-home routine or maybe you were just born with feet that always look like a newborn's bottom.  But mine, even at their best, are not good.  So even though I'm not showing my feet now like I was in summer, there comes a point where even I can't ignore those rough, dry, scaly appendages any longer.

It started at my first assessment appointment with the physical therapist.  I thought I was good-to-go....freshly shaven legs with plenty of Candy Cream
slathered on to keep them looking and feeling their best.  And then, he asked me to take my shoes AND SOCKS off!...Oh no!!  Now he would see my rough, dry, cracked, sorely neglected winter feet!

It was time to do something.  I'll share my tips and even [big inhale] the before and after pictures of My Dry, Disgusting Winter Feet.  See the transformation as you click through the photos, then meet me back here to let me know what you think.  Just click on the picture of My Loyal Assistant...he was there through the whole thing and feeling a bit left out, so I thought I'd give him some recognition here.  Prepare yourself...the first one's a real doozie! 

Meet "Scamp"
My Loyal Assistant

:  All Treatments Worked Very Well, But Differently

Pumice Only:  Using a pumice stone (or similar product) on feet softened from a shower or bath does a good job to get rid of the roughest outiside layers.  I had been doing this alone periodically with some improvement, but still wasn't satisfied with these results alone.  However, I see this as an important first step to lay the groundwork for the following treatments.
Sugar/Water Scrub:  The natural alpha hydroxy acids in the sugar made great progress "eating away" the rough, dry skin leaving it feeling very smooth.  The sugar keeps on working even after it's dissolved and rinses clean away.  However, it still showed dryness in the cracks.
Sugar/Oil Scrub:  The sugar didn't seem to to "eat away" the rough, dry skin, as much as it manually scrubbed it away, while the olive oil provided lubrication and moisture to help protect my feet while I continued scrubbing, leaving the skin feeling very smooth and nice.
Rescue Balm:  The Rescue Balm really seemed to be the cherry on top in this whole process.  It removed all last traces of dryness in the cracks and left it smooth and protected.  It continued to work over the long haul and the best part is that several hours later my foot still looked good!

IN SUMMARY:  Any one of these treatments alone, or in combination with 2 or more, made definite improvements in my feet.  However, If you are in need of drastic measures (like me) or you're just looking to give yourself an extra special at-home beauty treatment, doing all 4 is the the ticket!

ADDED BONUS...You can do the sugar scrubs on your hands and legs too, then follow with Rescue Balm on your hands at night and a good quality body cream/lotion like Candy Cream or Second Skin during the day.

(Go to skinkissednaturals.com website)